When Kamala Devi Harris was sworn in Wednesday as vice president, some of the women in Deepak Bansal’s Hicksville office started crying.
“It was [a] great moment, historical moment,” Bansal said. “In the South Asian community, we feel very proud and the women, they are very excited … we are moving towards the right path now for women getting empowerment.”
Bansal, owner of the Indian Visa Center — a business that helps South Asians get visas to immigrate to the United States — and president of the India Day Parade, said Harris will be invited to the annual parade in Hicksville.
The ascendancy of a woman who is the child of Indian and Jamaican immigrants to the second-highest elected position in the nation was celebrated by the large South Asian community in Hicksville and Nassau County. Harris’ mother, Shyamala Gopalan, a breast cancer scientist, was an Indian immigrant.
“It’s a very proud moment,” said Shashi Malik, president of the India Association of Long Island. “I think she may be a role model for my kids and my grandkids, you know if they work hard and they believe in something they can be in this type of position.”
Jasbir Jay Singh, editor and publisher of Hum Hindustani USA, a Hicksville-based weekly newspaper serving the Indian-American community, said they are “in the clouds” with Harris’ election.
“The women who look up to her, they know that they can also be tomorrow’s vice president or maybe, who knows, the president in the next election,” Singh said.
At Samaira, a bridal-wear boutique in Hicksville that caters to the South Asian population, Gurpal Singh, whose father owns the business, said he doesn’t look at Harris as an “Indian person” but as a “regular human.”
“It’s a great thing she’s a woman, making history with that and also making history as a mixed Indian person,” Singh said. “Maybe a plus side with that would be a little less racism.”
The Joseph Biden-Kamala Harris administration also brings hope in the community for easier paths to immigration and work and study visas for Indians seeking to come to the United States than was possible under former President Donald Trump’s administration, which sought to curtail legal and illegal immigration.
Malik, who runs an information technology consulting company, said it became difficult for U.S. companies to bring skilled workers from India for temporary projects.
“Under Trump, what happened was it was not allowed, you were not allowed to bring people in,” Malik said. “I’m sure a lot of companies, they found a happy medium somewhere, because business has to continue one way or another.”
Bansal said that under Trump the wait time for citizens to bring relatives over from India increased from 10 years to 15 years.
“People are very hopeful now that their families will get reunited,” Bansal said. “I don’t want, like, illegal immigration or anything like that, but it should be in a fair way.” Separated families “are waiting too long, fifteen years is too much,” he added.
MADAM VICE PRESIDENT
- Kamala Devi Harris
- Parents were Indian and Jamaican immigrants
- Harris’ mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was a cancer scientist originally from India
SOURCE: White House
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